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Paving the way for Dot's new Kroc Center

Our community soon will be the beneficiary of a huge foundation grant that will help local families well into the future. The Salvation Army has received a commitment to construct a massive, 6.5 acre, $115 million community center on Dudley Street, just at the MBTA bridge near Uphams Corner. The project is funded with an $85 million grant from the Ray and Joan Kroc Foundation, with the proviso that the local community must raise a matching $30 million.

A public-spirited committee chaired by Sovereign Bank's John Hamill has been active for almost two years in raising the matching funds and this week the group is within one million dollars of its goal.

Think of this as our neighborhood's own non-tax dollar "Stimulus Package". When fundraising is completed, this project is "shovel-ready," with a groundbreaking set for June. With a 24 month construction schedule, the "Kroc Corps Community Center/Boston" would open its doors in the spring of 2011- and it will be right here in Dorchester, an invaluable community resource for generations to come.

The work of the Hamill committee is a wonderful gesture to our neighborhoods and when he asked folks from the neighborhood to step up and assist in these final funding efforts, we were ready to answer his call.

Our big neighborhood is really an aggregation of many small towns, or "villages" - 13 or more, from Lower Mills to Fields Corner, Adams Corner to Uphams Corner, Mattapan to Columbia Point, and many others in between. Often we do not connect with what's going on in the village next door, or the one beyond. Yet just as our diversity is our neighborhood's strength, so also is compassion and concern for our neighbors. And today, in these stress-filled times, well intentioned persons of good will step up and come to the aid of our neighbors.

Several in the local business community are coming together to answer the call, intending to do what we can to make sure the need is met. The Reporter Newspapers have joined with local elected officials and trade unions, and hometown businesses such as Mt. Washington Bank and the Freeport Tavern, to help put this drive over the top. The Salvation Army reports that every dollar raised will be match, 6 to 1, by the Kroc Foundation. What a great opportunity this is for our community!

Other business persons who want to join the effort are encouraged to contact us. We plan a reception on the evening of March 30 at the Freeport Tavern on Morrissey Blvd. to give all the details of this great new community center. To join us, send an e-mail to eforry@dotnews.com and we will be delighted to add you to this effort.

Comments

While this will no doubt help some parts of the community, I don't think we should look at anything the Salvation Army does as if it's a nonsectarian community center similar to one of the health centers or afterschool programs. The Salvation Army is a church. It's right there in their mission statement that their aim is to bring Christian salvation to people through their programs. Also, given their legal standing as a church, they're permitted to discriminate against GLBT folks, which they adamantly do.

This article is extremely biased in presenting this as something that will help the whole community. The Salvation Army isn't interested in helping my GLBT Jewish family to better itself while remaining true to who we are. This center is going to strengthen the community in the same way that a new church or synagogue or mosque or temple does, but that's the extent of it. It doesn't strengthen the community in the far-reaching way that an actual community center (which welcomes and values everyone) would.

"Social services center," as the media is using to describe this, is a particular misnomer. Again, I have no doubt that this center will provide some wonderful services to straight Christians in our community, but we insult the field of actual social services by equating a discriminatory sectarian organization with professional social services providers who are bound by legal and ethical codes to help everyone.